Friday, March 16, 2007

Western World Insurance Company, Inc. v. Greene (Maryland U.S.D.C.) (Not approved for publication)

Signed March 13, 2007. Memorandum and Order and Declaration of Judgment by Judge Catherine C. Blake (not approved for publication)

On motion for summary judgment made by the plaintiff ("Western"), the judge GRANTED summary judgment in favor of Western and DECLARED the amounts due under certain insurance policies.

This case arose from a claim made by a tenant (Greene") for lead paint exposure over four years' occupancy in a residence insured by the landlord's insurance company ("Western World") in a series of four one-year policy periods. The first three years, the policy limit was $50,000 per year per occurence, while the policy limit was raised to $300,000 approximately half-way through the final year, one month after Greene had vacated the premises. Western World had offered Greene a total of $200,000, while Greene demanded $450,000, and Western World sought a declaratory judgment and summary judgment.

The judge had little difficulty finding that there was no dispute over any material fact, since the increase in policy limit in the final year did not occur until after Greene had vacated the premises, and the increase in the insurance premium was proportional to the roughly one-half year of enhanced coverage. The judge also did not find that the claim, raised for the first time on appeal, of in utero lead exposure in the last year, thus raising the total claim to $250,000, created a dispute as to a material fact. Consequently, the judge granted Western World's motion for summary judgment, and declared the policy limit for occurances prior to the endorsement date was limited to $50,000 per occurance, and thus the limit for Greene was $50,000 for that year, and $200,000 in total for all four years.

The Memorandum and Order and Declaration of Judgment are available in PDF format.

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